A new ADR Wales Data Insight examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of children that are clinically extremely vulnerable or living with clinically extremely vulnerable people in Wales.

In March 2020, people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to severe illness or death from Covid-19 were advised to ‘shield’ at home, remaining indoors and minimising contact with others.

The study looked at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on use of healthcare services for anxiety or depression in Wales, for CEV children, children living with a CEV person and children in the general population.

The study found that in 2019-20, CEV children were almost two times more likely to have a record for anxiety or depression than children in the general population, and in 2020-21, CEV children were over three times more likely to have a record for anxiety or depression than children in the general population.

However, over this time, anxiety or depression increased only slightly amongst CEV children (from 4.17% to 4.22%), but declined amongst children in the general population (from 2.19% to 1.39%).

The research team concluded that the higher risk amongst the CEV children was largely driven by a reduction in presentations to healthcare services by children in the general population during the pandemic, rather than a marked increase in presentations for anxiety or depression amongst the CEV children.

In the Data Insight, the research team stated: “…this evidence should be considered and interpreted alongside evidence from other population-wide data linkage studies and national surveys. This would contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between mental health support needs, expressed demands and care provision to better target services to those who need them the most.”

The Data Insight is intended as a summary of a research article recently published in BMJ Open.